Friday, July 29, 2011

Interview with Justin Gustainis and Giveaway - July 29, 2011

Please welcome Justin Gustainis to The Qwillery.

TQ: What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

Justin:  I have a hard time getting started on a project. I put it off, agonizing the whole time, for weeks, even months. When my central nervous system finally accepts the fact that “Hey – I’ve got a book due soon!” I can go like hell. During the writing of my last book, one day I cranked out 36 fresh pages, a personal best. Mind you, I don’t say they were 36 *good* pages….

TQ: Who are some of your favorite writers? Who do you feel has influenced your writing?

Justin:  Oddly enough, most of my favorite authors are mystery/suspense/crime writers. Maybe it’s because I read a lot of that stuff before I ever read much horror or dark fantasy. That might explain why my books are considered “paranormal mysteries.” On the mystery/crime/suspense side, some of my favorites among living writers are Thomas Perry, Robert Crais, Thomas Harris, and Stephen Hunter. Some others I like, who have passed on to that Great Writers Conference in the Sky, include Robert B. Parker, John D. MacDonald, Ross Thomas, and Raymond Chandler. Among paranormal writers, I admire Stephen King (especially his money), Kim Newman, Jim Butcher, Lili Saintcrow, and Rachel Caine, among others.

TQ: Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Justin:  I try to get the broad outlines of a plot together, then work out the details and subplots as I go along. Plotting is one of the things I find hardest to do.

TQ: What inspired you to write Hard Spell?

Justin:  The novel grew out of a short story I wrote at the Odyssey Writing Workshop called “Demons Don’t Die.” I thought it would be fun to write a paranormal police procedural, and I set it in Scranton because I grew up nearby and went to college there and, for gosh sake, the only thing the town is known for nationally was “The Office.”

TQ: What sort of research did you do for Hard Spell?

Justin:  Not a great deal. That’s the wonderful thing about writing paranormal fiction: you can make up anything you want, as long as you’re consistent. Although I did a little Internet work to reacquaint myself with the Scranton area (I haven’t been back in several years), if challenged I can always say, “Yeah, well , *my* Scranton is set in an alternate universe, and in that one City Hall *is* twelve stories tall and built like a medieval fortress. Or whatever.

TQ: Who was the easiest character to write and why? Hardest and why?

Justin:  I suppose the easiest one was Detective Sergeant Stan Markowski, the protagonist. The narration is in the first person, so I suppose Stan speaks with my voice, sort of. But since Stan is supposed to be a blue collar guy, whenever he started talking like a college professor I had to go back and change things.

Hardest? Probably Stan’s daughter, Christine – given the differences between us in age, gender, and, um, status. People will know what that last part means when they read the book – as well they should.

TQ: Without giving anything away, what is/are your favorite scene(s) in the book?

Justin:  Favorites would include Markowski’s first scene with his daughter, the scene set in Renfield’s, Scranton’s most popular “supe” (as in “supernatural) bar, the scene set in an adult bookstore that caters to “supe” customers, and, of course, the climactic scene, wherein the Fate of Humanity Hangs in the Balance (doesn’t it always?).

TQ: How many books are planned for the series?

Justin:  I have contracts for two more. EVIL DARK will be out in January, if I ever get it written (see earlier comment about procrastination). After that, it depends on whether the publisher wants more, and whether I still have ideas.

TQ: What's next?

Justin:  The interesting thing isn’t so much what’s next, as what’s going on simultaneously. I find myself in the odd position of having two urban fantasy novels being released on the same date (in the US, anyway): July 26th. SYMPATHY FOR THE DEVIL is the third book in the “Morris/Chastain Investigations” series. In this one, occult investigator Quincey Morris (descended from the character in DRACULA) and his partner, “white” witch Libby Chastain, learn that Senator Howard Stark, candidate for President, has been secretly possessed by a demon. Hell wants to put Stark in the White House, so that he can use the President’s powers to destroy the world. They don’t like us much, those folks in Hell.

TQ: Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

About Justin's Books

Hard Spell
An Occult Crimes Unit Investigation 1
(Angry Robot Books, July 26, 2011)
Meet Stan Markowski of the Scranton PD’s Occult Crimes Unit
“Like the rest of America, Scranton’s got an uneasy ‘live and let unlive’ relationship with the supernatural. But when a vamp puts the bite on an unwilling victim, or some witch casts the wrong kind of spell, that’s when they call me.

“My name’s Markowski. I carry a badge.

“Also, a crucifix, some wooden stakes, a big vial of holy water, and a 9mm Beretta loaded with silver bullets.”

Amazon : Barnes & Noble : Book Depository : Books-A-Million

See The Qwillery's 4 Qwill review here.

Black Magic Woman
A Morris and Chastain Investigation 1
(Solaris Books, November 25, 2008)
Occult investigator Quincey Morris and his "consultant", white witch Libby Chastain, are hired to free a family from a deadly curse that appears to date back to the Salem witch trials.

Fraught with danger, the trail finds them stalking the mysterious occult underworlds of Boston, San Francisco, New Orleans and New York, searching out the root of the curse. After surviving a series of terrifying attempts on their lives, the two find themselves drawn inexorably towards Salem itself - and the very heart of darkness.

Amazon : Barnes & Noble : Book Depository : Books-A-Million

Evil Ways
A Morris and Chastain Investigation 2
(Solaris Books, December 29, 2009)
In a story that ranges from Baghdad to Los Angeles, EVIL WAYS sees eccentric billionaire Walter Grobius attempt to unleash a devastating magical apocalypse. Quincey Morris and his partner, white witch Libby Chastain, are drawn into their deadliest case yet, but from different directions. In Los Angeles, Quincey is blackmailed by the FBI into investigating a series of ritualistic child murders. In New York, Libby barely escapes an attempt on her life by assassins armed with magical weapons. Both of these threads eventually intertwine, leading the investigators to a conspiracy so vast and diabolical as to defy belief.

The final, bloody confrontation takes place at Grobius’s isolated Idaho estate, on Walpurgis Night -- the night of the Witches’ Sabbath. Quincey and Libby, and their allies, must fight a desperate battle against immensely powerful dark forces that threaten the future of all mankind.

Amazon : Barnes & Noble : Book Depository : Books-A-Million

Sympathy for the Devil
A Morris and Chastain Investigation 3
(Solaris Books, July 26, 2011)
Senator Howard Stark wants to be President of the United States. So does the demon inside him. With the competing candidates dropping out due to scandal, blackmail, and ‘accidental’ death, Stark looks like a good bet to go all the way to the White House. And if he gets there, Hell on Earth will follow.

Occult investigator Quincey Morris and white witch Libby Chastain are determined to stop this evil conspiracy. But between them and Stark stand the dedicated agents of the US Secret Service – and the very forces of Hell itself. Quincey and Libby will risk everything to exorcise the demon possessing Stark. If they fail, ‘Hail to the Chief’ will become a funeral march – for all of us.

Amazon : Barnes & Noble : Book Depository : Books-A-Million

About Justin

Justin Gustainis was born in Northeast Pennsylvania in 1951. He attended college at the University of Scranton, a Jesuit university that figures prominently in several of his writings.

After earning both Bachelor's and Master's degrees, he was commissioned a Lieutenant in the U. S. Army.

Following military service, he held a variety of jobs, including speechwriter and professional bodyguard, before earning a Ph.D. at Bowling Green State University in Ohio.

He was married to Patricia A. Grogan of Toledo, Ohio, from 1977 until her death in 2007. He misses her a lot.

Mr. Gustainis currently lives in Plattsburgh, New York. He is a Professor of Communication at Plattsburgh State University, where he earned the SUNY Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2002.

His academic publications include the book American Rhetoric and the Vietnam War, published in 1993, and a number of scholarly articles that hardly anybody has ever read.  In the Summer of 2008, he attended the Odyssey Writing Workshop.

Justin's Website:

The Giveaway


What:  One commenter will win a signed copy of Hard Spell (An Occult Crimes Unit Investigation 1) from Justin.

How:  Leave a comment answering the following question:

What is your favorite city or town used as a setting for an Urban Fantasy?

Please remember - if you don't answer the question your entry will not be counted.

You may receive additional entries by:

1) Being a Follower of The Qwillery.

2) Mentioning the giveaway on Facebook and/or Twitter. Even if you mention the giveaway on both, you will get only one additional entry. You get only one additional entry even if you mention the giveaway on Facebook and/or Twitter multiple times.

3) Mentioning the giveaway on your on blog or website. It must be your own blog or website; not a website that belongs to someone else or a site where giveaways, contests, etc. are posted.

There are a total of 4 entries you may receive: Comment (1 entry), Follower (+1 entry), Facebook and/or Twitter (+ 1 entry), and personal blog/website mention (+1 entry). This is subject to change again in the future for future giveaways.

Please leave links for Facebook, Twitter, or blog/website mentions. In addition please leave a way to contact you.

Who and When:  The contest is open to all humans on the planet earth with a mailing address. Contest ends at 11:59pm US Eastern Time on Friday, August 5, 2011. Void where prohibited by law.

*Giveaway rules are subject to change.*


  1. London is my favorite setting for UF just because I haven't been to US so won't recognise any of the big cities :)
    Thank you for an amazing giveaway!
    +1 comment
    +1 follower
    +1 mention on the blog

  2. Wow, this looks a very promising author - why haven't I heard of him yet? Thanks for featuring him!

    I go with kara-karina, London is quite etched in my mind, so when I read about it, I can picture it as if it were a movie.
    On a sidenote, I haven't come across a UF featuring Dublin or some other great Irish cities, now that would be quite exciting also :)

    Comment + Follower


  3. my favourite urban fantasy setting is new york:)

    thanks for the giveaway and for making it international!!

    GFC-Janhvi Jagtap

    justjanhvi at gmail dot com

  4. i havent been to any place but my hometown, so id say that this would be my pick: Cebu, Philippines :)

    *i follow your blog via GFC as Jel

    *fb shared:


    punkme15 at gmail dot com

  5. I think New Orleans would be my favorite setting for UF.
    I follow.

  6. San Francisco is my favorite UF setting.

    zombvampire (AT) gmail (dot) com

  7. I love New York for an urban setting. Please enter me in contest. I would love to read this book and the author's other books. They sound very good.

  8. I would say Chicago since I'm most familiar wih it, followed by New Orleans fo it's atmosphere.

    GFC Anne38

  9. San Francisco where you get London fog and American brashness.
    This book looks like it could be as enjoyable as the Morris/Chastain books. I look forward to reading it. I follow thw Qwillery at or you can see it in my blog:

  10. Hmmm, usually doesn't matter to me if the story's good, but I guess I would like to see some (more?) set in the DC metro area.
    I'm a gfc follower.


  11. The city of Chicago or Paris would be great for me. GFC Krystal Larson edysicecreamlover18@gmailDOTcom thank you!

  12. I have not read many taking place here, but I would love to see some intrigue in Orange County, California - what a hoot. I was looking up your books at Amazon and don't get me wrong I love a book in whatever form, but are you considering releasing them in ebook format? Thank you for sharing today and for the wonderful giveaway opportunity.


  13. As far as a setting I've visited/know, I enjoy Las Vegas (a la Vicki Pettersson's Signs of the Zodiac series).
    But there are a bunch of places I don't know first-hand that I do enjoy for UF settings: New Orleans, Seattle, and Atlanta, to name a few.

    Thanks for sharing another interesting interview (to follow that great review)!

    Yup. Hard Spell is firmly on my TBR List now. ;)

    (commenter, follower, retweeter)

  14. Q: What is your favorite city or town used as a setting for an Urban Fantasy?

    A: I think I would like to choose New York. Because the people there are already so strange that it is easy to suspend disbelief that supernatural things occur there. :)

    (+1) Comment.
    (+1) Follower. My GFC name is Cherry.
    (+1) Mentioned your contest at Twitter:


    Re-posted at my comp blog at:


    (+1) Mentioned your giveaway at my sidebar under "Contests Around The Webysphere" module at:

    Cherry Mischievous
    cherrymischif-soldier [at] yahoo [dot] com

  15. well I do like it when it's in Seattle for obvious reasons.. I do however like fictional city's set in real states so the surrounding areas are the same..

  16. I like New Orleans as a setting, there seems to be a lot of locations there (like the many graveyards) that fit right in to an urban fantasy.

    Barbed1951 at aol dot com
    GFC follower

  17. I think my favorite UF setting thus far is Dublin.

    Sinnaye- If your looking for a UF set in Dublin...check out Karen Moning's Fever Series :)

    Thank you for the interview and giveaway!

    Comment + Follower

    ssosborn AT gmail dot com

  18. I am inspired to visit Dublin, Scotland after reading about it in Karen Marie Moning's FEVER series. It has the perfect balance of old world and mythology.

    GFC follower

  19. New Orleans always lends itself to amazing adventures. +1

    GFC: Mary Preston +1


  20. I like the southern cities: New Orleans or Savannah, something with history and character.

    +1 comment
    +1 GFC follower :)

    jwitt33 at live dot com

  21. +1 What is your favorite city or town used as a setting for an Urban Fantasy?
    Las Vegas, it just seems so natural for a fantasy tale
    +1 Follower of The Qwillery-Lisa Richards
    +1 blog-


    alterlisa AT yahoo DOT com

  22. I've read many urban fantasy set in NY and gotta say it's pretty much the perfect scenario, but I'd like to read one set in LA. Sunny LA with urban fantasy elements would be great. And what about Paris? Or even Las Vegas...

    +1 comment
    +1 blog follower

    aliasgirl at libero dot it